Steve Cotton from the ITF – along with his fellow general secretaries Sharan Burrow of the ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation), Fred Van Leeuwen of Education International, and Sue Longley of the IUF – appealed to ILO director general Guy Ryder to intervene with the Iranian government “in relation to the continued persecution of trade unionists and the systematic abuse of workers’ and trade union rights by the authorities of that country”.
In the appeal they cited cases such as those of Reza Shahabi, treasurer of ITF union the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, who was imprisoned in 2010 on trumped-up charges of propaganda against the regime and conspiracy against national security, as well as the victimised members of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Workers’ Union, and Esmail Abdi, an imprisoned leader of the Tehran Teacher Trade Association.
They added that they were “extremely concerned about an increase in the police crackdown on peaceful demonstrations and trade union activities. On 22 September 2017, members of the Tehran Bus Union undertook peaceful actions such as flashing headlights and slowing down their vehicles in order to express their solidarity with Reza Shahabi. In response, several vehicles were seized and one worker was detained for distributing pamphlets”.
The four general secretaries concluded: “Given the Iranian Government’s repeated failures to honour the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and previous recommendations of the CFA (Committee on Freedom of Assocation), we ask you to urgently intervene with the government and request that it remedies the above-cited violations of human and trade union rights in line with its obligations as a member state of the ILO. “